Why is Election Day not a Holiday?

Voter turnout in 2014 was the worst since World War II. When asked why Americans don’t vote, many point to a conflict with their work schedules and say they can’t afford to vote.

The undeclared public holiday to elect leaders at various levels of government has been a controversial topic in America, and there have been several questions as to why people are not allowed to stay at home and perform their civic duty. Statistics of the 2014 election show that less than half (closer to a third) of the total voting-age population of citizens in the country participated in the elections.

When asked why Americans don’t vote, many point to a conflict with their work schedules and say they can’t afford to vote.

Elections are the fundamental pillar of American democracy, and this is especially true of the presidential election. Voter turnout will continue to decrease unless a change is made to stop a small fraction of the population (who can afford to miss work) from making the guiding decisions for the rest of the country. Officials, and pundits continually complain of this low turnout every election year and yet they do nothing to change it. It’s hard to understand why those elected by the current system would be loath to change it.

America’s democracy is celebrated and held up as an example around the world, and it shapes much of our country’s foreign policy. Democracy demands a public holiday. When Election Day is made a holiday, it will give everyone the opportunity to vote, and participate in the national commitment to developing an engaged democracy.

Un-inspiring statistics

It is frustrating to see a democracy where less than half of its country population vote, most especially the low-income and young people. It is possible for the turnout to increase beyond its present state, particularly in the presidential elections.

Not only would an Election Day holiday allow people the time off work to vote, but it would also free up the voting stations such as schools, and other government buildings for a longer period of time which would also ease access and increase efficiency. This would also help the election processes by substantially multiplying the number of volunteers available to staff voting stations, and voting stations themselves - again increasing the ease of access.

Different advocates who had protested on the need for election holiday have also suggested the need to merge Veteran’s Day and Election Day into a general holiday for every election year. This is also a smart idea that would increase citizens’ right to vote and they would realize the importance of the need to vote since the Veteran’s Day stand as a day to honor the nation’s heroes who fought and continue to fight for democracy around the world.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed a bill to assign “Democracy Day” as a federal election holiday in order to allow easier access to voting and this is a cause that should be taken up by leaders in the primaries of both parties. In order to increase the turnout and indeed decide upon the leader of the free world, workers should be given a day off. Let’s provide the world with unwavering example of the truth of the democracy we proclaim.